Data from 2007 looking at various Google services, reveals that usage of Google Scholar declined by nearly a third last year. Those who have followed Google Scholar closely, are not overly surprised, saying that there has not been enough development of the service.
Librarians and Information Professionals have consistently taken Google Scholar to task for not revealing the sources they use, questioned the citation data it produces and asked for enhanced search options. But at the same time they have taken on board the reality that it will be used by students and therefore sought to guide them to get the most out of it.
Perhaps “Googleisation” has not gone far enough. Many databases and other search tools provided by universities, still need tutorials and guides to help users get through their complex interfaces. One of the key lessons from Google Scholar may well be that users want easy-to-use services and that they do not find the process of finding / locating information as interesting as we do.
One of the other issues that something like Google Scholar raises, is how to retrieve search results at the item level and the upcoming Intute Repository Search will be a step in that direction for us. Subject communities have produced such services themselves, for example, RePec features 75% of the world’s top 1000 economists and provides access to hundreds of thousands of articles via the EconPapers service.
And how will Scholar sit in the Google family of products when their Palimpsest project comes to fruition and will they join up their work on open data and academic publications? Without significant further development it is hard to view Google Scholar as anything other than a missed opportunity.
Explore some of the debate around Google Scholar via these del.icio.us links.